ST. PAUL, MINN. — The 1993 Worlds is history and Team USA brought home the gold for the first time ever. Hearty congratulations to the Team and all support members. ••• A number of calls or faxes arrived after the mention last month of new rigid wing developments. While rigids have yet to make a measurable impact in the market, interest in these "alternative" hang gliders remains keen. After observing this segment of our sport for nearly two decades, I see more interest and activity today than at any time prior. ••• First, let me pass along contact information (most requests directed to me ask for this info). • Want more on the Swift? Contact Bright Star at 707/576-7627. By the way, I may have sharply understated the cost of the Swift. Obtain pricing from the factory. • If interested in Don Mitchell’s last design, the Stealth II, contact Tim Morley and Jeff Harlan at 209/523-6652 or 209/632-6684. • If interested in Danny Howell’s Apex, call Glider Sport International at 909/696-0887. All are located in California, so plan your call time accordingly. ••• If you’re just investigating rigid wings, you should be reading Chuck McGill’s Rigid-Wing Reader. I continue to be impressed with McGill’s effort to disseminate information. In each issue I’ve seen so far he hits the high points of several projects, while looking at one of them in greater detail. His editorializing is lucid as he argues for the need for new aircraft to aid the growth/development of hang gliding. So far it’s free, though McGill has announced he’ll tap you for a subscription at some point. FMI: P.O. Box 304, Mercer Island WA 98040. Issues consist of four sheets of legal-sized paper packed nearly solid with text and some line art. ••• A familiar name is behind the "new" Stealth II: Tim Morley. Many of you recognize Tim from his days as one of Wills Wing’s road warriors, traveling the country rep’ing gliders. Others will associate his name with "that guy who put a control bar on a Mitchell Wing." Flying that machine, he made of the cover of my Whole Air magazine back in May of 1984. Unfortunately, not long after, Morley suffered a tandem accident that sharply curtailed his flying ambitions. Now, showing remarkable determination, he and partner Jeff Harlan will take the last Mitchell to new heights (and in some configuration that Tim can fly, I’d expect). ••• Don Mitchell’s longtime associate, Richard Avalon, will break up the business and sell parts to selected buyers who can go forward with the designs in a commercial sense. Avalon sold Morley and Harlan the rights to all unpowered applications of the B-10 and Stealth II designs. Avalon himself will retain right to power these same aircraft (kind of the old powered hang glider concept). Obviously, he’ll work closely with Morley and Harlan. Finally, he’ll sell the powered ultralight versions of the U-2 and Victory Wing. The latter deal was still in negotiation as of the end of June. ••• Morley and Harlan have set up space to finish the Stealth II design and hope to fly in 1993. You see, talented Don Mitchell was one of those old timers who designed by building. He’d work out the details and then create drawings and plans. Avalon remembers, "This is the same way he designed the Victory Wing. On its very first flight, the aircraft was in perfect trim… virtually nothing needed to be corrected. Don was that caliber of designer." Since he was unable to finish the Stealth II before his death, Morley, Harlan, and Avalon will proceed from completed sections, lots of pictures, and a fundamental understanding of Mitchell designs. Though they’ll have gaps to fill, Morley is confident they’ll complete the project. Both he and Avalon say, "We want to keep it strictly Don Mitchell." They promise to keep us informed. ••• Though Danny Howell’s Apex project has been out-of-sight, out-of-mind for many months, he claims they’re definitely progressing. "We will be producing a rigid wing," assures Howell. Presently, work is focused on earning certification. As some rigid enthusiasts feel HGMA is oriented to rag wings, certifying the Apex may take time. Howell has enlisted good help, engaging Tom Price and Mark West for the effort. Howell added, "The wing is flying very well." It was out in trials in early July. ••• To close, an amplification: In my excitement to describe details of Wills Wing’s new RamAir technology, I overlooked a significant point. Wills is proud of and their customers respect a policy of fully completing a design prior to releasing it for sale. I believe most readers are aware of this. However, such a policy means WW may work to refine ideas for a long time before any announcement. Releasing a new and certified glider is risky and expensive. I’m pleased quality builders like WW are willing to take the gamble. ••• Also failed to give proper credit to the chief architect of the new model. Steve Pearson is one of those behind-the-scenes innovators not always singled out when a new product is announced. In spite of my oversights in reporting, customers are clear in their reaction to the new model… the company had a deluge of orders placed without seeing a RamAir. What loyalty! ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Fax/V-mail to: 612/450-0930. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine